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Friday, April 09, 2010

Is There Any Other Sport Like Running?

I've never been a big sports fan. I just wasn't raised with it, my dad was the type who would watch the "big games", but not much else. The Super Bowl, NBA Playoffs, the World Series, those all got time on our TV's, but regular games were typically out. We'd watch oddities, like the famous bouncer competition that made Mr. T a household name.

Taking this into consideration, I'm probably not an expert on all things sport. I do have a few questions though.

Could a person who's been playing golf for a few years have a chance to play a few holes with Chi Chi Rodriguez? If I were so inclined, could I go head to head on the ice with Wayne Gretzky? Drive a couple laps around the track with Richard Petty? Shoot hoops with Magic Johnson? Play catch with Joe Namath? Swim a few hundred meters with Mark Spitz?

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Fleet Feet Sports in Roseville.

American River 50 Mile Endurance Run and Fleet Feet Sports Fair Oaks/Roseville are pleased to host legendary runner Dick Beardsley.

We invite runners and recreational enthusiasts for a FREE “fun run” (3-5 miles) with Dick Beardsley and Rich Hanna on Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 5:00 P.M. from Fleet Feet Sports Roseville. If you are unable to join us for the run, drop by afterwards to the Roseville store for a meet and greet and book signing with Dick Beardsley.

Mark your calendar for this exciting night -
April 8, 2010.

For more information, visit:

For those who may not be runners or haven't heard about him, he's perhaps most famous for the 1982 Boston Marathon, the finish of which was later called the Duel in the Sun. While he finished in second place behind Alberto Salazar, it was nonetheless an amazing finish. As he said to me, watching it makes the "hair on the back of your neck stand straight up."

That's right, he said that to me. I didn't read it in some book (although he's probably said it to people many, many times), he said it to me.

On Wednesday, I did a leg workout in the gym, and Thursday morning I ran 8 miles before leaving for work. By the end of the day I was about spent, but I did want to run with Dick Beardsley at Fleet Feet. I didn't get off until 4:30, and the run was to start at 5. I figured what the heck, at very least I could meet Dick afterwards.

I didn't get there until 5:20! When I walked in the door, Dick was speaking to everyone, so I hadn't missed the run.

When he was done speaking, he told us that he wouldn't be able to run with us. How disappointing! Apparently he'd strained one of his hamstrings and wanted to rest it, so he said he'd meet us when we returned.

I'd forgotten about the hills in that part of Roseville. The run itself was only a little more than 3.5 miles, but the hills, combined with my soreness from the 8-miler and previous day's leg workout made for one slow, sore run. As I ran I had to keep telling myself that it was a good thing to feel what it was like to be on sore legs, since that's how I'm going to feel at the Avenue of the Giants Marathon on May 2.

When I got back, I had the chance to talk to Dick for a few moments. It really wasn't all that long, but I had the opportunity to meet a running legend. If he hadn't strained his hamstring, he would have been running with us. It didn't cost a dime.

So I'll ask the question I posed in the blog title: is there any other sport like running, where you can meet people like Dick Beardsley, participate in the sport with them, even ask questions, without cost? I'm sure you can go to a sports clinic and pay thousands of dollars to meet baseball or basketball players.

This is just one of the amazing things about running. We're all in this together, whether we're out in front or in the back of the pack. The guys in the front are pushing for the guys in the back and want us to succeed just as much as they do. I'm thankful that I finally came to my senses and am able to take part!

Speaking of taking part, here's the details.

See the activity on RunSaturday
Type:Run - General
Distance:3.60 mi

This week happens to be my peak training week. Tomorrow's the only 20 mile run in the training cycle, and Sunday's the Sacramento Zoo Zoom, where I'm signed up for the 10k. 6.22 miles, which I certainly don't plan to run at a race pace after 20 miles. When the week is over, I will have run more miles in a week than I ever have, at just over 43 miles.

After that, it's time to taper, where mileage reduces prior to the marathon. Big fun lies ahead!

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